This post may be going against the grain but I’m discovering that Makeb the single-planet expansion of Rise of the Hutt Cartel is very quickly becoming my favourite planet. Released some time ago (and still charged to non-subscribers), Makeb provides hours of gaming – if you enable ‘Show Exploration Missions’ anyway. I’m going to explain my reasons why, even with Knights of the Fallen Empire and continuous story.
Makeb is Simply Beautiful
Makeb has to be hands-down one of the most beautifully designed planet in the game. As I’m not the city-type I prefer open spaces any way. So I am still amazed by the detail of Zakuul in Fallen Empire but I’ll always prefer sunny countryside. Makeb is detailed, warm, rugged and full of beautiful scenery (some plant species are unique to Makeb, as far as I can tell) and plenty of wildlife.
Two Distinct Storylines
Although the base story is the same, Republic and Imperial stories are unique. The main gist of Rise of the Hutt Cartel is that the Hutts have siezed Makeb to drain it of its resource – Isotope-5, a potent compound which can provide an almost infinite energy source (for power, or fuelling starships for instance). They extract this by deep core mining but mining it causes instability in the core, which if continued can destroy the planet.
On the Republic side, you’re up against Toborro the Hutt. Makeb was a neutral world (not affiliates with Republic or Empire) but they lack the firepower to fight back. The Hutts bought out the local police force – the Interstellar Regulators so there’s no opposition. And Makeb’s atmosphere means large-scale troop deployments are impossible. Your job on the Republic side is to try to win over the government to join the Republic. And to try to save the planet and/or its people.
On the Imperial Side, you take the role of a stealthy infiltrator (suits Agents really well). You have been tasked by Darth Marr to take the Isotope-5 (which Imperials know about straight away, the Republic Side has to discover this through the story). The Empire feels like it’s losing the war and the Emperor is silent. Darth Marr seeks to take Isotope-5 for himself to create a stronger military and start to force a new Empire. Your main adversary is The Archon, a Hutt accustomed to killing all who oppose him – and who has his own Isotope-5 Droid which he ‘pilots’.
Both stories take time to unfold, which makes it enjoyable.
Another reason I like Rise of the Hutt Cartel is that you level at a slow rate, even though Level Sync is in play. Power levelling can be quite intense (which doesn’t help my pain levels). Depending on your level, I think you gain 2-4 levels across the whole planet. Levelling isn’t the aim on Makeb, enjoying the story (and in my case, the scenery) is the primary focus. And I like that.
Since Knights of the Fallen Empire, chapters work a bit like Flash Points – a 1-2hour mission that you realistically can’t break. There are exceptions, so some of the Zakuul missions and ones on board the Gravestone, but most the time they follow the Flash Point model. Makeb on the other hand is open-world and functions more like a Class-Story planet. Missions are smaller or shorter, so you can easily stop for a break, for food, or to take medication (in my case at least). That helps me to relax more when playing it.
Up to I think L60 you also get 12 Common Data Crystals for the core story missions. This can help save for Purple 208 Gear or Companion Gifts. There are also two speeders you can purchase on Makeb for 200 Common Data Crystals, just as a heads-up.
Reputation Rewards and Titles are Available
Since KotFE, BioWare seem to have abandoned the idea of gaining reputation and titles (apart from the ‘Alliance Commander’ title for achieving rank 10 Influence with all Alliance Specialists). Makeb has reputation and titles available. In the orbiting space station there’s a Reputation Vendor selling unique Makeb-themed Stronghold decorations as well. That makes it something to aim for. Gaining Reputation on Makeb is a long process, though, unless you can group up for the Heroic Missions.
Plenty of Harvesting Nodes
I usually end up ‘ahead of the curve’ on crafting. An intentional decision on my part to help with earning credits mostly. But Makeb is full of harvesting nodes for all crafting specialisations. You can fill your Legacy Storage or sell the materials on GTN. Although Makeb pays relatively well for completing missions, a bonus from crafting always helps!
Companion Influence Increases
Unlike Forged Alliances and Shadow of Revan, Makeb does offer influence gains for companions during conversations. After Ilum and Makeb you don’t gain influence for most of your ‘core’ companions even into KotFE. So if you want to get your companions to influence level 10 as one of your Things to do before starting KotFE, without buying gifts, then take various companions along.
There are also a ton of NPCs to kill, so if you need any of the ‘defeat X enemies’ achievements, Makeb is perfect for that.
TL;DR I now always play Makeb!
Playing the Rise of the Hutt Cartel is now a part of my normal character progression. It delays how quickly I have to start Fallen Empire, keeps my gaming varied. I hear people complain about Makeb, usually because it’s “so long” to get through it. But that’s part of the attraction for me. A good story, slow progress and beautiful scenery. For me, that’s a win!